Midnight In Peking, Murder In Beijing

I highly recommend Paul French‘s book “Midnight In Peking” about the 1937 murder of a young British woman.

There have been far too many reviews for me to have anything interesting to add so I will just recommend this one from USA Today. “Midnight In Peking” has made the New York Times bestseller list and the production company behind Spooks has bought the TV rights.

So what is the book about? From the blurb:

Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner’s body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives—one British and one Chinese—race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever.

Can they find the killer in time, before the Japanese invade? Historian and China expert Paul French at last uncovers the truth behind this notorious murder, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.

While I was reading “Midnight In Peking” I vaguely remembered reading about the 2006 murder of a beautiful young Italian woman in Beijing.

Paola Sandri, a 28 year old graduate student on a short-term teaching assignment in Beijing, was brutally killed just south of Chaoyang Park, near the gate of the Beijing Art Academy (北京画院; Map), in the early morning hours of July 25. There were rumors of darker forces involved in the crime, and at least one Chinese Internet post claims Chinese men driving a Mercedes may have been involved.

The Beijing police have not solved the case and it appears that her parents have been unable to pursue justice, unlike Pamela Werner’s father.

Perhaps Paul French wants to write a sequel and can turn his prodigious investigative skills to the Sandri case and help bring closure to this tragedy?

In the meantime, “Midnight In Peking” is well worth a read.

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